Published: Monday 17 February 2014

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier.
Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.
And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier.
All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

Cady Heron

Mean GirlsSNL Studios, 2004

Should Chris Christie’s recent troubles end with a whimper rather than in a bang he might re-emerge as a 2016 contender for the GOP presidential nomination. If he survives, unless he finds a better team to guide him, his run for the nomination will not only be hotly contested by Tea Party fanatics, but also will be hamstrung from within by poor staff work as well. General staff ineptness hampered Mitt Romney in 2012, as did Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney, of course.

Presently at the center of the Bridgegate scandal, David Wildstein, Chris Christie’s former muscle man at the Port Authority (and a man without a clear job description other than “$150,020/yr.”) has clothed himself like an Abrams tank in the 5th Amendment. Clearly, he seeks immunity from prosecution of any and all varieties, and has been as explicit as he can about it short of wearing a “Got Immunity” sign. He might escape prosecution, but he can’t escape persecution of any and all varieties. And lately the Christie camp upped the ante with its January 31st email purportedly from the Governor himself to his “family ...

Published: Thursday 3 January 2013
Published: Tuesday 11 December 2012
“Privatizing disaster relief has been proven to be its own disaster; federal agencies like FEMA, despite Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-NJ) maligning, are far more efficient and more able to coordinate resources than private efforts.”

As New Jersey continues to suffer from extensive damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy at the end of October, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) is poised to veto $60 million in federal aid meant to help his own constituents recover and rebuild.

Sandy’s devastation of the New Jersey shoreline was estimated to cost the state at least $29.4 billion. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) said the proposed $60.4 million in federal aid would cover the state’s damages. Garrett, however, suggested to CNBC host and fellow New Jersey resident Jim Cramer that he might deny his home state these much-needed funds, claiming he is concerned about “accountability” for “wasteful spending.”

CRAMER: Our state has been hit by a storm that may be worse than Hurricane Andrew. It requires spending. Do you veto that spending on principle?

GARRETT: At this point in time, we just got the president’s proposal as to the 60 some odd billion dollars. The governor said they’re looking for more. [...] I think in those numbers, I think it’s appropriate for Congress to look at them, and to also look for what I was asking for, that we never got with Katrina, and that was some degree of accountability. You remember all the stories about the FEMA trailers, about the credit, debit cards, whatever ...

Published: Monday 5 November 2012
“What we learned from Sandy is the same lesson that Katrina ought to have taught us years ago: The right wing disdain for government can imperil your health, your family’s safety and your nation’s security.”

 

The ruin and hardship inflicted by a natural disaster can reveal truths that political propaganda tends to obscure. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed swaths of the Northeast, darkened our largest city and plunged a huge section of the nation into crisis, the anti-government ideology of the Tea Party Republicans — and of its panderers like Mitt Romney — was exposed as pretense and nonsense.

Suddenly responsible for saving their communities and their people, politicians of every stripe reached out for help from the big Washington government and the liberal Democratic president many of them had previously reviled. They were duly impressed by his alert, active and concerned response.

None of this should have surprised us. What we learned from Sandy is the same lesson that Katrina ought to have taught us years ago: The right wing disdain for government can imperil your health, your family's safety and your nation's security.

Yet we clearly needed to learn it all again — and the events of the past few days have been starkly instructive.

At the center of the storm's aftermath stood New York governor Andrew Cuomo, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, different in political outlook but united in their commitment to provide relief to their communities and in their own need for assistance from the federal government. None of these men is an anti-government ideologue. Surrounded by suffering and wreckage, they looked to Washington because no other power could begin to cope with the boggling problems they confront, both immediately and as they contemplate reconstruction.

The partisan divisions of a national election shouldn't matter at such a moment, as Christie observed impatiently when a Fox News anchor suggested that he provide a photo opportunity for Romney in the disaster area. What rightly ...

Published: Monday 1 October 2012
“According to a report released Monday, ALEC has even made inroads in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) and other New Jersey lawmakers have apparently introduced 22 bills since 2010 based on ALEC model legislation.”

 

In the past year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has lost over 40 member companies because of its role in crafting voter suppression laws, anti-immigration laws like Arizona’s SB 1070, and other conservative causes. Still, the group continues to be popular among lawmakers in Republican-controlled states. According to a report released Monday, ALEC has even made inroads in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) and other New Jersey lawmakers have apparently introduced 22 bills since 2010 based on ALEC model legislation. Christie denied the connection in April, when another report found many similarities between his legislation and ALEC bills. However, records found Christie’s advisers and conservative lawmakers in New Jersey consulted ALEC on key legislation, including:

The New Jersey Jobs Protection Act (S240) and a similar bill (S164), which would require all employers to verify whether their workers are legally qualified to work in the United States. The report said they were “taken nearly word for word from ALEC’s Fair and Legal Employment Act, which is also incorporated in ALEC’s longer and more thorough No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act— the infamous model legislation that was introduced in Arizona … and led to protests across the country and a showdown at the Supreme Court.”

ACR103, which would allow a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature to nullify any federal law or regulation. It’s sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), co-chairman of ALEC’s state chapter. Handlin, who has said she is not an ALEC ...

Published: Tuesday 28 August 2012
The possible need for Christie's resignation arises from federal rules that forbid the employees of Wall Street firms from giving money to state officials running for federal office if the firms do business with that state.

 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's allies seemed to give a big old raspberry to presidential aspirant Mitt Romney on the front page of the New York Post today. Anonymous sources told the paper that Romney demanded Christie agree to resign the governorship if he was offered vice president on the GOP ticket. Christie was said to have declined since he didn't think Romney would win.

A spokesman for Christie said they were not commenting on the Post's report and suggested contacting the Romney campaign, which did not respond to emailed questions.

The possible need for Christie's resignation arises from federal rules that forbid the employees of Wall Street firms from giving money to state officials running for federal office if the firms do business with that state. The rules affect firms that underwrite municipal bonds or advise state pension systems on their investments. If the public official — in this case, the governor of New Jersey — has any influence, directly or indirectly, in selecting the pension investment advisers or bond underwriters, the firms can't give campaign contributions.

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Published: Friday 13 April 2012
“Christie’s bullying style was best illustrated when he insulted and abused another constituent when he asked a perfectly reasonable question about taxes. He demanded that a state trooper bring the man onstage, berated him at length, and then ordered him expelled from the room.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the embodiment of today's Republican Party and everything it has come to represent. You name it, Christie's got it: Disingenuous, smug, nasty? Check. Robotic servant of the corporate class, foisting its lobbyists' prefabricated laws on an unsuspecting public? Check. Hostile toward women? Double-check.

And last night he proved his bona fides as a Republican by proving he meets his party's other criterion, which is an absolute contempt toward the ordinary men and women who have been victimized by its policies. The night before the nation received its latest bad news on unemployment, Christie told a cheering Republican crowd that the nation's jobless were lazy examples of an entitlement mentality.

Needless to say, Chris Christie is now considered a leading Vice Presidential contender.

Bully

Christie's blunt style seemed refreshing at first. Hey, I kinda liked the guy myself.

But "blunt" became "ugly" very quickly: Telling union officials to "cut the crap." Shouting down a right-wing millionaire who asked a blunt question at a Meg Whitman rallyInsulting a nonpartisan state agency for reaching a conclusion he didn't like. Rudely blowing off a constituent during a televised question-and-answer session. Telling Warren Buffett to "just write a check and shut up.'

His behavior ...

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
“The middle class is likely to hardly notice Christie’s cut, as it would give just $80 annually to a households making $50,000.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) today formally announced his intention to implement a 10 percent cut in New Jersey’s income tax. “Lower tax rates will relieve over-burdened middle class families,” Christie said in his annual budget address.

However, the middle class is likely to hardly notice Christie’s cut, as it would give just $80 annually to a households making $50,000. In fact, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, President Deborah Howlett, 40 percent of the benefit of Christie’s tax cut will go to the state’s richest 1 percent:

The recession blew a $2.5 billion hole in the state budget that has never been filled. Now, the governor wants to dig that hole even deeper with an irresponsible gimmick that only benefits the wealthiest 1 percent.

Proposing an income tax cut might be good politics, but it’s bad policy for most New Jerseyans.

For most of us, the governor’s proposed income tax cut will amount to $2 a week, which will be quickly eaten up by rising property taxes. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will reap nearly 40 percent of the savings.

The state’s tab for this tax cut will ultimately be $1.1 billion, and that money has to come from somewhere. While the governor seems to think it will come from his pie-in-the-sky revenue projections, it’s hard to imagine the state’s stagnant economy will turn around quite so quickly.

Already, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), New Jerseyans in the bottom 20 ...

Published: Thursday 24 November 2011
“And before the day was over, the crowd retreated to a nearby Quaker meeting house, where nonviolent direct action trainings began–assuring that this movement, if the time has come to call it that, is not about to let any amount of success go to its head.”

Environmental victories are so rare that apparently even environmentalists don’t quite know how to kick back and rejoice. At a rally in Trenton, New Jersey on Monday, discussion veered between joyous celebration of Friday’s announcement by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to indefinitely postpone a vote that would have paved the way for 20,000 natural gas wells in the region and serious preparation to one day block their construction through nonviolent direct action.

These activists can be excused, however, for mixing business with pleasure because even more rare than an environmental victory is one that’s complete and total. Much like the recent announcement by the Obama administration to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, the DRBC vote delay was hardly an indictment of extreme carbon-based extraction that poisons water and the atmosphere. If anything, it’s a temporary roadblock to something government seems all too happy to allow.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have already promised to vote “yes” for drilling in the Delaware River Basin–a region that provides drinking water to 15 million people. Corbett is no surprise because drilling–or fracking as it’s more commonly called–is already a common practice in Pennsylvania. New Jersey, on the other hand, does not have any natural gas ...

Published: Tuesday 8 November 2011
Frustrated Americans now have decided to use the polls to spell out their frustration.

Americans who are frustrated with the broken politics of the moment will have plenty of opportunities to Occupy the Polls on Tuesday.

That’s what happened in Boulder, Colorado, last week, when voters shook things up by backing a referendum proposal that calls on Congress to enact a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision that corporations can spend as they choose to buy elections. The same election saw Boulder voters endorse a plan to end the city’s reliance on private power companies and replace them with a public utility.

There are big issues, big races and big tests of the political potency of organized labor, social movements and progressive politics playing out this Tuesday, on the busiest election day of 2011. In some cases, voting offers an opportunity to make an affirmative statement on behalf of a change in priorities. In other cases, there are opportunities to push back against bad politics and bad policies. In still others, there are signals to be sent about the politics of 2012.

Here are some of the big races to keep an eye on Tuesday:

1. OHIO REFERENDUM TO RENEW LABOR RIGHTS

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Published: Tuesday 11 October 2011
Hours before Republican presidential contenders were to meet a few miles away for a debate on economic issues at Dartmouth College in Hanover, Christie cited Romney's experience as a business executive and as a former governor of Massachusetts.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who just days ago was seen as a potentially big threat to Mitt Romney's bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, endorsed Romney on Tuesday.

"America cannot survive another four years of Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney's the man we need to lead America and we need him now," Christie told a news conference at a Courtyard hotel in this western New Hampshire city.

Hours before Republican presidential contenders were to meet a few miles away for a debate on economic issues at Dartmouth College in Hanover, Christie cited Romney's experience as a business executive and as a former governor of Massachusetts.

"We know that he brings the best of both to what we need for America right now," Christie said.

Romney praised Christie as a "real hero in Republican circles" and someone who's forthright and has a following around the country.

Romney backers said the two men and their supporters had been discussing the campaign for some time, and had many friends — notably Wall Street-connected donors — in common.

The endorsement gives an important boost to Romney, probably tightening his already strong hold on Republican voters in New Hampshire, traditionally the site of the nation's first presidential primary, as well as elsewhere in the Northeast, which both men call home.

Romney had a commanding 25-point lead over his next nearest competitor among likely GOP voters in the Sept. 26-Oct. 6 Granite State WMUR poll, but the survey also found that 68 percent hadn't made final decisions on whom to support.

Christie, 49, had been insisting all year that he wasn't interested in pursuing the White House this year. But Romney has been unable to go much above 30 percent in most national Republican presidential preference polls or above 40 percent in New Hampshire surveys, and many party insiders saw the plainspoken Christie as ...

Published: Sunday 9 October 2011
Christie’s temper represents an opportunity for his opponents and a real burden for him.

Chris Christie must have spent the last week feeling a bit like one of those bodies on a crime show. He was poked and prodded, turned this way and that, examined from head to toe. He was found to be too fat, too aggressive, too undisciplined, too angry and — not insignificantly — too late into the race. Running for president is like intensive psychoanalysis. You find out a lot about yourself.

Right off the bat, Christie was denounced as criminally obese not just by some important columnists — Eugene Robinson and Michael Kinsley (both of them infuriatingly trim, in my estimation) — but, more importantly, on “The View,” the immensely popular syndicated television program presided over by Barbara Walters. It was not Walters, though, who found the Republican governor of New Jersey too oval for the Oval Office, but — most vociferously — Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd, comedians both. This, though, is no laughing matter.

They raised health issues. They raised willpower issues. They raised self-discipline issues — all of which are real, because, among other things, in a presidential campaign anything is an issue. Recall that just recently Barack Obama’s religion and place of birth were issues. Both were easily documented — Obama had all his papers in order — but questions persisted anyway and the Obama campaign, and finally the president himself, had to deal with them. Christie, I’m sure, was born somewhere — but can he prove it?

At the same time that Christie was being told to lose weight — an issue that will fade in time — others were surely preparing a game book about how to handle him in one of the many presidential debates coming up. The book would certainly say that he should be jabbed, incited and challenged. The purpose is to have him lose his temper. He has, in the past, responded to a question regarding where his children go to school with a ...

Published: Thursday 6 October 2011
The republican candidates struggle with the torment of their party for any interactions they may have done that may seem un-republican.

You can't blame Chris Christie for not running. Monied Republicans had been urging the popular New Jersey governor to seek their party's nomination for president. But by deciding against it, Christie spared himself the ordeal through which all Rebuplican moderates must go: the Night on Bald Mountain.

You remember the last segment in Walt Disney's "Fantasia." Angry spirits fly up the jagged peaks and spend the restless night carrying on. They torment their foes, throwing them into the fire pits.

The Republican primary contest is kind of like that. Before conventional candidates can run a broad-based campaign, they have to endure months of frenzied scrutiny by agitated members of the Republican base. If they have ever done something open-minded or worked well with Democrats, the activists will demand groveling apologies. To prove themselves worthy, the candidates have to do distasteful things, like question accepted theories in science and refuse to back any budget compromise, thus rendering themselves unintelligible on the deficit problem.

It's been a very long night for Mitt Romney. As Massachusetts governor, Romney raised revenues by closing tax loopholes. For example, he stopped letting Massachusetts banks transfer assets into real estate investment trusts that paid almost no taxes. Banks are not real estate companies, and so this was something of an obvious scam. But to the tax-a-phobes, ending an abusive loophole was a cave-in.

As he contemplated the 2008 race, Romney renounced his previously sensible stance on taxes and signed Grover Norquist's ludicrous no-new-no-taxes pledge. Next thing you know, he is joining other GOP candidates in saying he'd oppose a ...

Published: Saturday 1 October 2011
On rare occasions, Christie speaks candidly about his weight: “I’m really struggling, been struggling for a long time with it.”

Whether or not he lets himself be persuaded to run for president, Chris Christie needs to find some way to lose weight. Like everyone else, elected officials perform best when they are in optimal health. Christie obviously is not.

You could argue that this is none of my business, but I disagree. Christie’s problem with weight ceased being a private matter when he stepped into the public arena — and it’s not something you can fail to notice. Obesity is a national epidemic whose costs are measured not just in dollars and cents but also in lives. Christie’s weight is as legitimate an issue as the smoking habit that President Obama says he has finally kicked.

On rare occasions, Christie speaks candidly about his weight. “I’m really struggling, been struggling for a long time with it,” he told CNN’s Piers Morgan in June. “And I know that it would be better for my kids if I got it more under control, and so I do feel a sense of guilt at times about that.”

Six weeks later, the New Jersey governor was briefly hospitalized for asthma — a condition that he has had for most of his life. Researchers say that many respiratory problems, including asthma, are worsened by obesity.

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Published: Wednesday 28 September 2011
“At this point, you have to wonder if the GOP will fall in love with anybody”

Here’s my question for the Republican Party: How’s that Rick Perry stuff work­in’ out for ya?

You’ll recall that Sarah Palin asked a similar question last year about President Obama’s “hopey-changey stuff.” Indeed, hopey-changey has been through a bad patch. But now the GOP is still desperately seeking a presidential candidate it can love. Or even like.

 

That Perry was crushed by Herman Cain — yes, I said Herman Cain — in theFlorida straw poll Saturday confirms that the tough-talking Texas governor’s campaign is in serious trouble. He’s the one who put it there with a performance in last week’s debate that was at times disjointed, at times disastrous.

Perry was supposed to be the “Shane”-like Western hero who brought peace to the troubled valley that is the Republican presidential field. A month after he rode into town, however, increasingly ...

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